Leandre Sanders by Van Alpert

For a guy who frequently uploads #tbt snaps of his mom and pup to Instagram, it’s safe to assume that Van Alpert is a total softy. But don’t be fooled, this film director is all about shining a light on the gritty underbelly of American subcultures. His latest film endeavour LEANDRE follows 17 year old skater Leandre Sanders as he carves his way through the Venice beach skate scene.

How did you meet Leandre Sanders?
I met 12 year old Leandre at Venice Skate Park when I first moved to LA in 2010. It was my first time at the Park and I was looking for a skater to film. Leandre and his brother Leontay skated up. He was the one we’ve been in touch ever since.

How do you approach a project? Any rituals?
It depends but I usually have no rules and just set aside time for things to happen. Trusting myself and going for it is my ritual.

What camera did you start with and what do you shoot with now?
I first started with a Canon Rebel that I bought from Costco. Now I shoot with my iPhone 5.

Why do you use an iPhone 5 for shooting some of your films?

The iPhone 5 allows me to get away with shooting any location, plus it’s the most personal camera out there. Everyone is used to the iPhone…if you have a big camera on your shoulder its like a gun, people get freaked out and don’t want to be around it.

How did you blend Leandre’s personal story with your own creative vision and point of view?

I relate to his story. My teenage years were spent in the Miami skateparks around that same skate street culture. The youth has to be recognized and understood. Teenagers everywhere will connect with the ones in my film — everyone goes through the same shit. A big part of my point of view is inspiring kids and encouraging them to get out there and create.

You obviously believe in Leandre and his pursuits, what else do you believe?
That if you work your ass off and are nice you can be anything you want to be. Leandre’s a natural at this––that’s where we connect. We met when he was 12 and at 17, it’s obvious that he’s pushed hard and hasn’t stopped since. Be fearless, test things out, and expect to fall hard while doing it.

Director-Writer-Illustrator. You’re keen for it all, tell us more. What’s next?
Multiple genres of creativity—that’s what I love. Drawing, painting, film, and storytelling. I’m into respecting and understanding the craft that I’m working on.
LEANDRE is in post production, my 40 piece solo art show in Miami goes live at the end of the summer, and a few new commercials of mine are about to launch.

You’re pretty active on your social channels. What’s the value?
I have fun watching people and their reactions to what I’m doing and creating. It’s a way for me to make sure I’m never fully understood. I can switch up what I’m posting whenever I want. I’ve met some really great people through social media too––I have nothing but love for it.

One thing about you that we’d never guess?
I’m a high school dropout who pissed a lot of people off, moved to California, showed up to the front door of Art Center in Pasadena with my art and films in hand and landed a scholarship. Yep. I never took the SAT.

Lets pretend you have 6 months left as a film maker, who would you like to collab with and shoot?

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise.

Follow Van Alpert on instagram @vanalpert

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